April 18th, 2003


Testing Testing

Further to the piece yesterday on Men and Women and their juicy brains, the Guardian has a test for both Emotional Quotience and Sytemising Quotience.

People will be completely unsurprised that my Systemic Quotience is in the 'average' band (although it's 38 compared to 30 for the average man and 24 for the average woman).

Nor will they be vastly surprised to discover that emotionally I register an 18 (42 for men, 47 for women) placing me into the Aspergers range of understanding.

I do think I underplayed both of them slightly, a danger of self-reporting tests as Heron pointed out. My main problem so far was that when answering questions like "It is hard for me to see why some things upset people so much", my answer is "Well, it used to be nigh impossible, until I read lots of books that explain to me how people work and now it's a lot easier because people really aren't that complicated." If the statement was "I instinctively know why people become upset at certain things" I could give a clear-cut answer of "No, not even slightly."

Unable to vote

Dammit, after reading this I want to vote for this guy. Sadly, I'm not allowed to as I'm not American.

Hey, if the US is going to run the world, surely we should all be allowed to vote in the presidential elections?

Happy Birthday!

The lovely Dave sent me a link to the story here on the 60th birthday of LSD.

There are only two other 60 year olds that have brough so much happiness to my life and I'm carrying both of their genetic material.

Shanghai Knights review

There's a moment at the start of each movie that's pregnant with sheer possibility - anything can happen next and we have no idea what path we are about to be led down. This moment is both less and more exquisite with sequels, we know what kind of movie we’re about to watch and who the characters are, but we’re also keen to know what new directions they will be taking, what new spin will be placed on their actions, how they have changed since we last saw them.

Sadly, this moment was almost the only part of Shanghai Knights that I enjoyed.

I loved Shanghai Noon, it was witty, self-knowing and fun. It didn’t take itself too seriously, but I felt that the characters were still 80% real with a veneer of filmic unreality layered over the top to allow me to fall for the ridiculous stunts and coincidences I was presented with. I couldn’t believe in the characters in the sequel at all.

Sadly, this is fairly standard sequel fare – snip out the sections that ‘obviously’ made it a success and repeat them, only with less wit or charm. I felt like the producer’s had watched the original and said “Fantastic, Jackie Chan does cool stunts, Owen Wilson is sexy and a smartass who’s always in trouble and there’s loads of in-jokes about the time that the audience is party to but the characters aren’t. If we just repeat those elements the sequel will be just as good!”

Um, no. Not if your characters don’t act like people – I can take a certain level of ‘fairytale reality’, where people fall in love or are sworn enemies for reasons that seem petty, but I still like them to have a little bit of depth, here they had none. At the end of the first film I’d have paid money to hang out with Owen Wilson’s character, by the end of this one I just wanted to smack him upside the head.

Sigh. I’ll just have to look forward to X2 and Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions.

Score: 5/10

Roy O'Bannon: And just to set the record straight...Roy O'Bannon is not attracted to loose women; loose women are attracted to me.

Male/Female Navigation differences

Microsoft has found that women tend to be about 20 per cent slower than men when working out where they are in a computer-generated world. So led by Desney Tan from Carnegie Mellon, Czerwinski and her Microsoft colleague George Robertson ran tests on volunteers to see if they could improve this.

They found that women were just as good as men at virtual navigation when they had a large computer display. "The gender difference simply disappeared," says Czerwinski. A standard monitor gives a viewing angle of about 35°. With a larger screen, giving a viewing angle of 70°, women navigated better. And with two screens delivering a 100° angle, women matched men's spatial abilities.

But there was a proviso. Women only matched men when the 3D virtual environment moved smoothly as they progressed through it. "You have to generate each image frame so the optical flow simulates accurately the experience of walking down, say, a hallway," says Robertson. Women, they found, find it easier to get their bearings when this animation is smooth and realistic, rather than jerky.

This might seem obvious, but many 3D software packages do not "render" the images smoothly, preferring to jump from one point to another in the environment as users progress through it. "You just appear magically in a new place, and women find that far inferior to having a smooth optical flow of the environment," says Czerwinski. Something about the jerky motion appears more disorienting to women than men.

This ties into my anecdotal view that men navigate by internal maps (allowing for swift reorientation), while women navigate by landmarks (meaning that a jump from one place to another means realigning yourself with places that you know). But that's just my theory.

Article here.